Five Triple-A Games That Made 2013 A Vintage Year For Gaming
I don't care what anyone else says, 2013 was a vintage year for gaming. Metacritic may have said that there were far less 'great' games in 2013 but only a moron would judge the quality of a game purely on its review score and not on the observations of the reviewers as well.
Here are five good reasons why 2013 should be remembered as a vintage year for gaming, in reverse order.
Games have always triggered some kind of emotional response. Usually it has either been one of joy and relief at completion of a difficult segment or complete controller destroying rage and frustration at not doing so. This year games managed to evolve to a state where they developed a wider palate of emotional responses.
The heart-wrenching moments at the beginning of The Last Of Us where Joel's daughter is shot dead by a panicked soldier is on a par with the pain of losing a character that has become like a friend to a host of walkers in The Walking Dead: Season One and certainly moved me to the verge of tears.
It's a watershed moment indicative of the fact that game narrative has evolved to the point where we are investing in them with the same weight as we would a powerful book or a film. Finally gamers have the ammunition to argue coherently that games are as much of an art form as more traditional media and that can only be a good thing.
Irrational Games is one of the most uniquely talented studios around and with Ken Levine at the helm they are trying to make games that actually say something as well as being all shooty and fun.
BioShock Infinite is possibly the most high-brow FPS game that has been created exploring all kinds of aspects of human nature from racism and revolution to the very nature of the existence and the universe.
With this game they underlined the BioShock universe as one of infinite possibility while probing some of the darker recesses of human nature. Columbia begins as a seemingly peaceful utopia among the clouds but it quickly descends to a nightmare of human conflict as Booker and Elizabeth jump from reality to reality trying to find a way to escape. In the end it it highlights the one sad truth about life – that we spend much of it trying to escape from ourselves.
Volition has traded almost its entire existence on the premise emphasised by early Kevin Smith movies, that being "the big money is in dick and fart jokes." In fact they've elevated it to an art form and Saints Row IV is quite possibly their zenith moment.
From the very beginning of the game players are put in situations so ludicrous that make most of Michael Bay's brand of big-budget action movies look small in comparison. The game lampoons every single detail of geek pop culture it can get its hands on and does so in such an in your face way its hard not to revel in the experience that the former THQ studio has crafted.
As a bonus it holds a mirror up to the triple-A end of the games industry and points out brazenly just how ridiculous so-called 'serious' franchises like Call Of Duty have become and that can only be a good thing.
In a year that was dominated by the build-up to the release of the PS4 and Xbox One Rockstar did something truly amazing with GTA V.
They revived the franchise from the gritty and slightly disappointing GTA IV with not one but three main playable characters and the biggest playable area that the series has ever seen. This game is easily the most vibrant and accessible GTA game that has ever been produced which, given the franchise's pedigree, is no mean achievement.
That's not the biggest effect that GTA V had though. Rockstar decided to forego releasing the game on next-gen platforms and concentrated on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. The result was the biggest-selling single video game of all time dwarfing any achievements previously held by the Call Of Duty franchise. These were breathtaking numbers that GTA V sold and it proving without a shadow of a doubt that there is plenty of life left in the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Crystal Dynamics' brutal reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and Dontnod's thoughtful debut title Remember Me have one thing in common – both titles are proof positive that games can produce solid, well-rounded female leads.
Whether it's Lara Croft's journey from scared and lost youth to becoming the strong woman that saves her friends from the dangers that lurk on the island they are stranded on or Nilin's battle to recover her memory and identity, stolen from her when she uncovered a conspiracy in futuristic Neo Paris, both stick in your memory as fully fleshed-out characters.
While both characters are beautiful women they have much more rounded personalities and most importantly, they've ditched the ridiculously over-accentuated physical proportions that have dogged female game characters for so long.
These games give us a glimpse of a future where female characters can finally stand on equal grounding with male characters as central heroes not just peripheral titilation.